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Promoting Equal Opportunities in Education - Project Two: Guidance On Dealing With Homophobic Incidents: Phase 1 Report and Recommendations


SEED Project 2 - Guidance on Homophobic Incidents


"The homophobic issue it's new in schools, we don't know how to deal with it, what's the most appropriate way, do you come down heavily on the child or a light touch approach - and it's that that takes confidence away from teachers, they don't know how to deal with it because it hasn't been in place…I mean everyone's looking for guidance on how best to deal with it really"

Phase 1: Recommendations

LGBT Youth Scotland was commissioned by the Scottish Executive Education Department ( SEED) to review the practice that schools and Education Authorities ( EAs) employ to deal with homophobic incidents, prejudice and harassment. The research also examined staff and pupil awareness of homophobic bullying and how to deal with incidents. With agreement from SEED, LGBT Youth Scotland widened the scope of the research to address key issues of teacher's confidence, barriers to dealing with incidents, homophobia and heterosexism in Scottish schools.

These recommendations to SEED will inform a set of actions to be carried out in Phase 2 of the project.

Key Areas



Quality Indicator



The Scottish Executive Education Department ( SEED), Education Authorities ( EAs) and schools should explicitly make mention and mainstream homophobia into their Anti-Bullying and Equal Opportunities policies.

Where appropriate, policy should be developed in consultation with young people and the wider school community.

Monitoring and evaluation should be an essential part of the policy development process.

  • SEED to develop guidance on how to include LGBT issues in policy
  • Education authorities and schools to make specific mention of homophobia in anti-bullying policies
  • Education authorities and schools to mainstream LGBT issues into Equal Opportunities policies
  • Education authorities to monitor the inclusion of homophobia in policy
  • SEED to reinvigorate LGBT Education Forum via new network
  • Inclusion of homophobia in SEED, EA and school level anti-bullying and equal opportunities policies
  • Young people and the wider school community engaged in policy development
  • Inclusion of homophobia in policy is assessed through Quality Assurance or other monitoring framework

4.1 Pastoral Care

5.1 Climate and relationships

5.3 Equality and fairness

7.1 Aims and policy making


Leadership, teaching and curriculum

The importance of commitment at a senior level in schools and EA to challenging homophobia should be promoted by SEED.

Continuing Professional Development ( CPD) should be available to EA and school management on how to identify and challenge homophobia in the school community. Homophobia and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT) issues more broadly should be included in Initial Teacher Education ( ITE).

There should be greater inclusion of LGBT issues in the curriculum, particularly in areas like citizenship, PSD and RME.

Signposts to support and specialist services for LGBT young people should be available to all young people in schools.

  • SEED to develop online central resource for teachers, young people and parents about addressing homophobic bullying
  • SEED and LGBT Youth Scotland to disseminate Project 2 research via research seminar and Executive website
  • SEED to develop and roll out 'train the trainers': training for teachers (including teachers in training) on how to challenge homophobia
  • SEED to work with LTS and others to produce curriculum which includes LGBT young people
  • Evidence of EA and school management commitment to challenging homophobia in the school community
  • EA offer CPD on challenging homophobia
  • Resources, lesson plans and other materials are available which include LGBT issues and help challenge homophobia

1.2 Courses and programmes

3.2 The teaching process

4.1 Pastoral care

4.2 Personal and social development

5.1 Climate and relationships

5.3 Equality and fairness

7.4 Leadership


Young People

The existence of homophobia in schools must not be overlooked or underestimated. Homophobic bullying merits the same treatment as other forms of bullying in the school environment.

Mechanisms for young people to report homophobic bullying and seek support must respect confidentiality and deal with incidents in a sensitive and inclusive way.

The importance of a commitment by young people to challenging homophobia should be encouraged.

  • SEED to work with schools to develop pilot buddy/mentoring system around homophobic bullying and report findings
  • SEED to disseminate project findings/training with generic youth organisations like Youthlink, Children 1 st and others
  • National LGBT Youth Council to pilot work on gay/straight alliance
  • Confidentiality relating to a young person's sexual orientation is respected
  • Young people are consulted on policy, recording and approaches to dealing with homophobic bullying
  • Young people are aware of their school anti-bullying and equal opportunities policies
  • Young people have access to appropriate information and support via websites, posters and other resources

4.1 Pastoral care

4.2 Personal and social development

5.1 Climate and relationships

5.3 Equality and fairness

7.1 Aims and policy making



It should be recognised that young people in the school community may have LGB or T parents, brothers, sisters, carers or friends and that this might be a source of homophobic bullying. The school should make it clear that this will be challenged appropriately and in consultation with parents.

The school should promote awareness amongst parents, carers and parent representatives about school policy and procedures to tackle homophobic bullying.

  • SEED to work with LTS via the Parentzone initiative to provide information for parents on homophobic bullying
  • SEED to work with Parents Enquiry Scotland to provide information for parents on homophobic bullying
  • SEED to include homophobic bullying in initiatives on bullying with parents
  • Education authorities and schools to recognise the diversity of parents and carers, including LGBT parents
  • Parents information/induction evenings on school approach to bullying make mention of homophobic bullying
  • School handbook mentions school anti-bullying policy and reference to homophobia
  • LGBT parents are offered the chance to inform school about family/home life

4.1 Pastoral care

4.2 Personal and social development

5.3 Equality and fairness

5.4 Partnership with parents, the School Board and the community


Approaches to working with young people

A more preventative approach should be taken to challenging homophobic bullying in schools accompanied by a more proactive approach to raising LGBT issues in general.

Approaches suggested in the research have included circle time with younger children, theatre in education ( TIE) with older pupils, increased inclusion of LGBT issues and same-sex relationships in the curriculum, inviting external speakers into the school from the LGBT community and the voluntary sector.

  • SEED to pilot circle time/ TIE approach to dealing with homophobic bullying and raising LGBT issues in schools
  • SEED to disseminate output from Phase 2 of Project 2
  • LGBT issues integrated into the curriculum where appropriate
  • TIE/Circle time approaches used to raise issues of bullying, including homophobic bullying

1.2 Courses and programmes

4.2 Personal and social development

4.8 Links with local authority or other managing body, other schools, agencies and employers

5.3 Equality and fairness


Further research

The following areas have been identified during the course of Phase 1 as in need of further research:

  • The experience of transgender young people at school
  • LGBT young people and denominational schools
  • The experience of LGBT young people with additional support needs
  • The experience of LGBT teachers